Saturday, January 31, 2004

KILL BILL, Vol. 01

KILL BILL vol. 1
By Reymundo Salao
Oftentimes Disturbing

Have you noticed that the past three big films that has been showing since January were included in CNN’s Best Films of the Year? The Return of the King, which was a fantasy epic that is now rumored to win a landslide on the Academy awards, the Last Samurai, a Samurai epic, which was Tom Cruise’s “finest performance”. And now, KILL BILL. A bad mother##cker with a big sharp samurai sword. One of it’s tagline is “Speak softly, and carry a big sword” Cheesy? Well, just watch the film and prove yourself wrong.

Kill bill is like a homage to 70’s grindhouse films. It is a movie that knows it is a movie. It has its own universe and does not need to conform to the standards of reality. Neither it is trying to be under the category of sci-fi or fantasy, it is clearly just a homage to old action movies.

Many of the film’s elements were actually inspired from that of the many movies and television shows that Tarantino loved. For instance, many of the actions of the samurai elements were inspirations from a 70’s ninja TV series. The hero of the series is Hattori Hanzo, the same character in Kill Bill, who gave Black Mamba the samurai sword. There was also the concept of a group of female assassins, which was inspired from 70’s chick assassin flicks, which were the earliest templates from which the concept of Charlie’s Angels was copied from. Even the name of the group “Deadly Viper Assassination Squad” had that retro-feel, that no real-life assassination organization would name their group as cheesy as that, except on 70’s action flicks. It’s like when you watch a Chuck Norris movie from the 80’s or a Lito Lapid as a legendary-hero-kind-of-movie, you know that somehow, you love it with a weird sense of audience. Take those elements and stylize those cheesy aspects, give them more art and life. It seems that this is what Tarantino did in KILL BILL.

I loved the nostalgia that saturated the film. The intro logo sequence of the Shaw Brothers Production, which was actually a production outfit which released Kung-Fu films of the 70’s, was an ideal jumpstart that led me on to grin throughout the film with sheer enthusiasm. The black & white prologue of a beat-up Uma Thurman, was astounding. The simplicity of it was more impacting than a multi-million stunt sequence prologue from a Bond film.

Although the storyline had a simple plot, the dialogues were injected with a lot of chuckle-inducing wit and panache. The stress of the film lies in the coolness of its medieval-type-honor-vengeance-mission, when warriors must settle their issues with an honorable duel. This is one cliché that has a surprising impact.

The film reeks of macho action. But at the same time, hands it over to women empowerment. Girl power with a very sharp killing edge. Like is the spaghetti westerns that were made by Sergio Leone, Uma Thurman was Tarantino’s Clint Eastwood. The bad-ass who wouldn’t stop her one-way quest for revenge. He doesn’t only blow-off her enemies, he bangs their head in the door, he bites off their bloody lips, slashes off their limbs, cuts them to pieces, decapitates their heads, and even scalps them. Bloody? Yes, deliciously bloody. This is one movie; you’d want to force your 5th grade theology teacher to watch.

The music was a major element in this film as it marinates its essence with that nostalgic oldies action. All the music here was geniusly arranged that fit all sequences to a perfect tee. My friend even said that the film transforms the ugliest songs into supercool themes. Its as if some of the songs were that of Japan’s Imelda Papins. Almost all the tunes here were music from an era long forgotten. If you have seen Tarantino’s other films, you wouldn’t be as surprised, but you would still have your attention 200% on focus as you would surely enjoy how these songs become immortalized in this film before your senses.

KILL BILL was also included as one of the best films of 2003 according to CNN (it was released November 2003). No doubt about it, it is a masterpiece. Tarantino has outdobe himself once more. Tarantino achieves, in this movie, to make an obramaestra with absurd and obscure elements, and succeeds miraculously creating a product that is magnificent and groundbreaking. We can do no more, but wait for the sequel. I will surely rant more when the sequel comes.

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